Kori Arts - Crossroads, TANZANIA

Taking Our Art To Tanzania 2010

Believe the journey was, in both the literal and metaphorical sense of the word, long! It was true adage to the notion that you have to endure to enjoy. Although we were all ecstatic to be finally on the island, I still felt a sense of apprehension amongst the group. It’s not surprising that there was an underlying feeling of tension, as we were experiencing a completely new culture and landscape without the luxury of light (with it being night time). Although finding out that there were only three beds for 16 people were definitely a kick in the teeth.

Arriving at the house was a journey in itself as we watched the hustle and bustle of the town transform into dense patches of a variety of tropical trees, and the smooth concrete roads be come meandering dirt trails until we eventually stopped. Personally, a huge sense of achievement was my initial feeling, as unjustified as it may seem considering all I’d done is eat and sleep for the majority of the journey!

Our accommodation was the focal point of the first few days provided we kicked the current insect residents back to their nests! Once we’d removed our luggage and brought in mattresses to balance the body to bed ratio, we decided that a feast was in order. There’s only one place to go in Zanzibar when your after a feast, and that’s the night markets, but you’ll have to wait until the next blog for that story ;-) .

After an unsurprisingly deep sleep, along with themorning came the sun! Wow, words aren’t an adequate resource when attempting to describe the surrounding area of the house. Although we expected to be situated nearer the Zanzibar International Film Festival, of which we will be working on in the town centre, I have to admit I was quietly happy to be in the depths of the Zanzibar countryside. With the sun, a new light shone over the house highlighting a huge garden with coconut trees growing next to the spacious front terrace. The elaborate designs of the looming, varnished, oak door is an example of the houses rustic character. Although unfortunately, it flatters to deceive, as there was no running water for two days, and the plumbing is constantly testing our resolve!

Odiri (Odiri Ighamre- Managing directororKORI Arts) decided that we wouldleave ourwoes of insect ridden poorly plumbed accommodation behind us, and go to the beach… Paradise beach. Well, they called it paradise beach, and If they hadn’t I would have. With your back to the mêlée of palm trees and guava plants, its only twovolleyball net lengths across the powder like white sand, until it meets with the Indian Ocean. This idyllic setting was the perfect backdrop to wash all the negative thoughts from the group, and we went backrefreshed and ready for work the next day.

It was a welcomed relief when our firstchance to work with the children of Zanzibar came in the form of a secondary school named, ‘Jangombe Secondary School’. The school was founded in 1994 and has grown exponentially in both size and prestige; it now currently holds 323students, taught by 53 teachers.

Greeting the children in their school environment has turned out to be an insight into the culture all across the island, the respect they had for their teacher was definitely reflected in the way people respect each other on the island. As the KORI Arts mentors and seniors started introducing themselves to the group of high school children, you could see that the classwas hesitant. That wasn’t a problem for Lydia Newman (one of our senior mentors that coordinates the drama work shops) who broke the ice in her usual charming way. By the time Lydia was done, you could see the children were more comfortable… dare I say excited. If there were any doubts as to the children’s mood, those doubts were certainly out the window by the time Onome Edgeworth and Stephanie Turner gave them a sample of the percussion and singing workshop. The place was almost swaying, drawing people in from off the street, it was a true example how KORI Arts work uplifts youths from all different types of backgrounds. Although if they were as impressed with KORI Arts as we were with their natural grasp of music, then we’ve done well. Check the video labeled ‘Inspired?’ to see what I mean.

That brief stint of 1 hour with the children was followed on Friday with a two-hour workshop. The Friday Work Shop was situated in a field just out sideof stone town, right under the full force of the east African sun. The mentors led three camps, rotating 100 pupils round every half an hour. After splitting the 100 into three groups of 30 plus, the groups were

leadout to the three workshops of Drama, Dance and Percussion & Vocal. Again the results were clear for all to see and the children were tired but happy at the end of it, another successful day.
It was that successful, that the event organizer and teacher, Robert Monolongu, who recommended us to the school has asked us to come back annually and is in talks with Odiri about linking us with more schools and festivals in Tanzania next year. As well as coming back next year, Robert said he would like to see a branch of KORI Arts permanently in Zanzibar, with Zanzibar youths being trained as mentors and seniors in the same way the youths of London and Manchester have been trained over the last 8 years.
Stay locked in to our future Blogs as next time we’ll have videos from the performance that the students of Jangombe Secondary put together in our workshops, plus footage and stories from the Zanzibar International Film Festival.
Written By Antonio V. Peruga
Special Thanks to:
Odiri Ighamre (Managing Director of KORI Arts)
Edward J Lusala (International Liaison Director)
Robert Monolongu (Teacher and Events Organiser for Jangombe Secondary HighSchool)

The theme of this exchange is "We are present"


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